December 10 🌟 Prepare the Way (Mark 1:1-8)

Read Mark 1:1-8

silhouette of a man and a woman kneeling at the foot of a cross with a sunset in the background

I love how the Gospel of Mark starts right here, with John’s ministry preparing the way. When is the last time you asked yourself, “how am I showing up for Jesus?” When people look at you, do they see Jesus at all?

Since none of us really know what Jesus’ looks like physically, although he’s been depicted in all sorts of ways over the years, we know what he looks like in behavior and character. That’s what I’m talking about here. How much did John really know about his cousin Jesus before he started preaching?

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December 4 🌟 Watch for Jesus’ Return (Mark 13:24-37)

Read Mark 13:24-37

girl watching and waiting with the universe/cosmos overlaid behind her

As we reflect during Advent about Jesus’ coming, it’s not only about the babe in the manger we’ll celebrate at Christmas. In fact, for us, it is more about Jesus’ return. Here are Jesus’ own words telling us how to get ready and stay alert!

I liked the example he gave about the fig tree. While I’ve never seen a fig tree up close and personal, I have seen plenty of trees and can identify with the new leaves sprouting. We know what’s coming next. Just like in the fall when leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. We know what’s coming!

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Mark 15:21-47 – The Death of Jesus

Read Mark 15:21-47

Jesus on the cross

How can we even imagine what Jesus went through in these final hours. Pilate tried to set him free, but Jesus’ destiny had been set. You can read the whole chapter of Mark 15 for more of those details. It used to shock me how the people turned on Jesus. And while it is still shocking, I can see how God had to cloud their minds so that the cries of “crucify him” would be more than Pilate could bear. These outlandish charges would not warrant a death sentence.

But imagine how Jesus, that is God, felt hearing the angry cries, the chants calling for his death. Even though he expected to die, it had to be difficult to hear coming from the people who days before had been shouting, “Hosanna!” These were the very people he loved so much and would be giving his life for. The inner turmoil must have been agonizing. He couldn’t just blink his eyes and have it over with. He had to endure the cruelty of the cross for us.

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Mark 16:1-20 – Just the Beginning

Read Mark 16:1-20

Jesus is not dead! He was raised from the dead on the third day, just like he said! What those women must have felt that morning. They had gone prepared to see and anoint a dead body. But it was gone!

Unbelief! Fear? Do you think they feared Jesus’ body had been taken? It doesn’t sound like they even questioned who the “young man” was in the story. How do you accept news like that from a stranger! There was God.

What his friends must have felt when they saw Jesus among them. Did they think he was back for good? Some great exchanges took place. There was God.

I found it a little interesting that there were three endings to this gospel. Did your Bible have them all? (If not, be sure to click the link above.)

I was delighted to see that these disciples were finally getting to work. They were finally able to see what their purpose and mission was. They had quite a testimony to share. By sharing their story as Jesus had instructed, we are able to speak of and worship Jesus still today. There was God.

What if the disciples had continued to be blinded and confused by what Jesus was trying to tell them? Where might we be today? Do you think that people can change that fast? Neither to do. It must be God. God began a good work in them.

We have the same instructions. We are called to be disciples to this dark and dreary world. Jesus’ final words before he left this earth to ascend to his Father were, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” 

The disciples did just that. The text says they went “everywhere.” Praise to God for opening their eyes and their mouths!

What frightens me a bit is Jesus also said, “But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.” Do you have loved ones that don’t believe in Jesus? Do they “refuse” to believe, or is it they just don’t have the understanding they need to believe? Either way, they are separated from Jesus and the eternal life he brings.

That is our purpose, our goal, our “why”, as we’d say in business. Jesus declared it. We need to tell as many people as we can to keep the ripple effect going worldwide. It’s a very big world. It starts in our homes and neighborhoods.

Who in your circle of friends or family need to hear about Jesus? What do you share? Your story. That’s simple, just tell them how your life is better with Jesus in it. They can choose to accept or not, but your story is still your story. It’s yours. Jesus loves you.

Let’s pray. Jesus forgive me when I don’t seize every opportunity presented to me to share the gospel. I pray for the wisdom to see your path for me. If there are folks that need to hear of your saving grace today, please open my eyes. I thank you for the many blessings you have given me and my family. May they all turn to you and rely on you. May the truth they have heard resonate in their heart and take root. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Mark 15:33-47 – This is the End

Read Mark 15:33-47

This is it. The moment Jesus was born for.

Are you  mourning for what could have been for Jesus’ ministry? What if Jesus had lived for even another year or more? How many more lives could have been changed? How many more people would be following him?

God’s perfect plan played out this way. Thousands of years later we still follow Jesus and yearn to know him more. He didn’t need to stay on earth longer. His purpose was fulfilled.

Even a Roman soldier, totally unattached from the whole story, said out loud, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Jesus’ charge was King of the Jews, yet this soldier could see the truth. It’s cool to see who God gave that wisdom to.

We can’t tell from this reading whether Joseph of Arimathea was a follower. Why did he want to do something special for Jesus? The “risk” was for his own reputation. What would people think if a council member, one of the ones who had called for Jesus’ execution, now wanted the body. Would he lose face or be thought a traitor? Did he have ulterior motives? If so, what would they be?

I would say he was a secret follower, after all he was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He was one who saw the truth, too, that Jesus was of that kingdom. Joseph was part of God’s plan in this precious story. A tomb was needed for Jesus to leave empty.

The story is not finished but only beginning.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus I am so grateful to you and the sacrifice you made for me. I have been washed white by your blood and made right by what you have done. What amazing grace. My heart overflows. I am beyond saddened by what you had to endure for me. May my life be a tribute to you. May all my actions reflect you and your love for humanity. Fill me with the confidence I need to be your servant. Thank you for the opportunity to be your hands and feet and the example you have given for me to follow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.